Friday, October 22, 2010

The Green Pumpkin

This year has been different in so many ways. One of those ways is that I was not able to be an active mother for the 23 weeks I was on bed rest. This was so hard on many levels. I think that my 14yr old adjusted better to this as he had a better understanding of the situation but I worried about our 3yr old and how this would affect our relationship. I tried to maintain my mommy-ness through reading in bed to my 3yr old, watching movies with him, doing arts and crafts, and playing catch with balloons but he needed so much more. So with a heavy heart I watched as my 3yr old grew closer and closer to his father. Now, he has always been a daddy's boy but he and I still had our special relationship. So as he became increasingly aware that my parental role was far less active than daddy's, he naturally gravitated to dad for anything he needed. And who was I to argue since I literally could not care for my kids. I could only care for the one growing inside of me.

So since we've had the baby, I have been able to step back into the role of full fledged mommy to all of my children! To my teenager I am sure his opinion about my reemergence changes depending on the day and how much trouble he is in. I think overall he is glad I'm back to normal and able to be mom again. But much to my delight, our 3yr old has become a bona-fied mommy's boy! It's like he's rediscovering me all over again! What's great is that even though my time is more divided with a new baby, compared to the months preceding the baby's birth our 3yr old feels like he has more mommy time than ever! He wants mommy to read to him at night. He wants mommy to buckle him in the car seat. He wants to sit next to me and cuddle with me. His favorite thing is that when he gets done with his bath mommy can pick him up an wrap him in a towel to make a "baby burrito". He waited so patiently when I was on bed rest for these moments. And I eat them up! Each one is special and makes my heart happy!

Last Friday our 3yr old's daycare class had a trip to the pumpkin patch. I really wanted to go with them but due to my car accident I was scheduled for physical therapy that day. I was pretty upset about this. So my husband and I waited at the daycare until they were ready to load onto the bus and I gave our son extra kisses and told him to have a fun time on his adventure (even if it was without me). When we went to pick him up from daycare later that day he was so excited to see us and told me to cover my eyes because he had a surprise for me. I promptly obeyed. Once he was ready he instructed me to open my eyes. When I did, my little boy was standing proudly before me with his arms stretched out and in his hands was a small green pumpkin. He was beaming and told me it was a surprise for me and that he picked it himself. He also said he picked the green once because green is my favorite. Heart. Melting. Now.

In a patch of pretty and traditionally orange pumpkins he saw this little green pumpkin and chose it just for me. His mommy. While all of his friends undoubtedly picked pretty orange pumpkins, he chose that green one. He didn't pick a pumpkin for him. He picked it for me. His mommy. And I wish you could see how proud he was of this little green pumpkin. He knew how special what he did was. And still, days later, if you come to our house he will pull that pumpkin down from its prime spot on display in the living room and show you the pumpkin he picked for mommy.

This is what I missed. While I sat in bed for 23 weeks wondering if I was a good enough mommy to my family, this little boy never gave up on me. He just waited patiently until I made my come back. I have always appreciated my children and the gift they are to me. But this year has emphasized that for me. I appreciate them 100% more! I love each and every one of them and I love that I get to be their mommy every day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where does the luck fall?

The other night while driving home from dinner at a friend's house, our car was struck by a drunk driver. It was my sister, my best friend, my newborn, my 1yr old niece and I in the car. We didn't see it coming as we were coming up over a small hill. I just remember seeing lights and then instantly being hit. I can still hear the sound of the metal crunching and scraping. The driver struck us, we bounced off the curb and then I believe we struck him again before he hit the Hummer behind us head on. The drunk driver and the Hummer ended up on the sidewalk. My best friend did an excellent job of correcting our car and bringing us to our final stopping place in the center turn lane.

Whenever I am in an emergency situation I get this serene sense of calm and clarity. This night was no exception. My best friend had been screaming and I remember telling her it's okay repeatedly. My sister had been sleeping in the back when the car struck her door. Her head hit the side of the car and then she instinctively wrapped herself around my baby's car seat. Once we came to a stop, I called my husband right away as we were just blocks from our home. My mission now became getting the babies from the car, out of the rain, and safely home. My sister and my best friend couldn't get out of their side of the car as that's where the impact was. I grabbed my baby & his car seat from the car and then got my niece out of the car with my other free hand. It's that super human mommy strength you get when your babies need you! I then headed to the side of the road where we would be safe. My sister and best friend could now climb out of the car. Everything after that is flashing lights, police, rain, and fire trucks. My focus the whole time was getting those babies back to the house. It was all I could think about. I just kept thinking that I had worked too hard to bring my baby into this world and he could have been taken from me. So I wanted him home.

We all walked away from the accident that night. We have injuries and are sore. We will spend the next few weeks in physical therapy. But we walked away. God was with us. God was with that drunk driver believe it or not. So many things could have gone differently. If one of the babies had been on the side of the car where the impact was- this would be different. If there wasn't a center turn lane the driver would have hit us head on- this would have been different. If we had taken a smaller car- this would have been different. Different for us and different for that driver.

So who was the lucky one? I can say without a doubt that myself and my family are lucky. God had angels wrap their arms around us and keep us all safe. Especially those babies. But I hope this young man realizes that he is lucky too. I hope he sees this for the lesson that it is. I hope he NEVER makes that decision again. A few beers with buddies can change your life forever. It can change the lives of people you don't even know forever. So many drunk drivers continue to drive drunk, tipsy, etc. because they haven't had a night like this YET. I hope that not only does this young man choose to never drive after drinking again but I hope he can be a living witness to the people around him. I hope he speaks of his luck and understands that God graced him with a second chance that night.

In total he hit 8 people in 2 cars that night. Two families were effected by his actions. But again, by the grace of God, 8 people went home and slept in their beds that night. 8 people are alive and breathing still today. And 8 people will spread this story. Hopefully this night will keep others from drinking and driving. Because I don't know how luck is determined and where the luck falls. But that night it fell on all of us.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lie to me..... how to care for a new mom.

The following blog is a how to guide on how to care for a new mommy. Understand a few things about a new mommy and her fragile ego. So many things are going on in her head in regard to how she views herself. Part of her is feeling thinner than she has in months! On the flip side, her old clothes still aren't quite fitting. Her skin is finally clearing up from acne, red spots, and a variety of other afflictions. She is getting less and less sleep which leaves her a little more emotional as well. Not to mention that her hormones are trying to get back to their normal state. She is also so in love with her new baby! And this is an extreme love on an emotional level you may not understand if you don't have children. This may leave her more focused on her baby than herself most days. All these things leave our new mommy unsure of how she looks and feels about herself. And please understand that by the time she is seeing you she has had to struggle all morning just to get a shower in, make up on, and find clothes that fit and don't have spit up or breast milk on them. Sure, she may not be the super model she was before she got pregnant. But she is beautiful now for many other reasons.

So what can YOU do for her you ask? It's really quite simple. Just tell her she looks great. Tell her you can't believe she just had a baby. Tell her you are amazed by how how she is juggling it all. I don't care if you really even mean it. This is what EVERY new mommy needs and deserves to hear. This simple act of kindness will be like a shot of energy and encouragement for any new mom! And it's so easy for you to do! I had my third baby just 3 weeks ago and the other day while visiting my old office, someone told me that I didn't even look like I'd had a baby! I hugged her. It was just what I needed to hear! Look, I'm well aware that 3 weeks after baby my body still has a ways to go. But that didn't matter at that moment. Someone else thought I looked good! I don't even care if she meant it. Lie to me. Just keep the compliments comin'!

And if you are a husband or partner of a new mommy, listen to me carefully..... you need to do this daily- starting directly after birth! Mommy needs to hear how great she looks TO YOU. She needs to know that you still find her attractive and that you respect the work she just did to give you this beautiful child. Now that her special place has been stretched and ripped in unnatural ways and her breasts are now milk machines (which she fears may never return to their former glory), it is super important that you calm her fears that she isn't your sexy wife anymore. After experiencing these things, some new mommies start viewing their bodies as functional. You need to assure her that you still see her and her body as attractive. This will not only keep her spirits up but it will nurture your relationship so that when you are able to be intimate again, she won't feel as self conscious. Again, she may not be the sexy vixen she was before baby right away. But she'll never get there without your encouragement and support. A dash of sugar is far more effective than a pile of salt any day. So sprinkle her with sugar daily and watch her spirits sweeten! My husband has been a shining example of how effective this method is. He tells me how great I look before we even leave the hospital and keeps it going every day. This encourages me to make sure that I am showering each day and looking good for myself and for him. I am so grateful to know that he still finds me attractive even though my body isn't the toned 22 yr old body he met 12 years and 2 babies ago!

This next piece of advice will require an open ear. But let me tell you the joy it will bring! There is no story more amazing to any mom than the story of the delivery of her child! This is the day she met the love of her life. This is the day she became a warrior. This is the day she put a person on the planet! It may not seem like these things to you, but to every new mom this is the most important, scary, amazing, painful, joyous, challenging, happy, and miraculous day of her life. Hands down! So it only takes a few words. Repeat after me- "How was your labor?". And then listen. Whether the labor was amazing or scary, let her talk about it. In her mind, nothing you've done recently can compare to this miracle day. So let her tell you about it. Listen to her and tell her how amazing she is for making it through.

Finally, tell her how beautiful her child is. If you don't believe it- lie. Or use a word like amazing or fabulous. This baby doesn't have to be the cutest thing you have ever seen. But you need to understand that to this mommy, she has never seen anything so perfect and beautiful in her life. After I had my first baby I remember saying to my mother "You'd tell me if he was ugly right? Because if he is I can't see it!". That baby could have come out with a foot on his head and I would have thought it was the cutest foot I had ever seen! This is honestly how mommies see their babies! Pure perfection! So validate that and let her know that she has done good work.

If you have never had a child you may not fully understand what I am asking you to do and why it's so important. If you have had a child then you totally get it. And while I am telling you to "lie to me" really what I am saying is to recognize the work I have done, the work I do daily as a new mom, and that while it may not seem like it, I am more beautiful now than I was before- just in a different way. And I need to hear it. All moms need to hear it. So take care of the new mommy in your life. She'll thank you for it!